I remember seeing Kid Icarus Uprising around the time the 3DS was first announced. It looked totally awesome and I was really excited to get my hands on it. Unfortunately it seems to have taken pretty much a year into the 3DS’s life cycle before it actually came out, but I would say that it was worth the wait.
I never had the opportunity to play the original Kid Icarus until recently; about a week ago. Prior to that my only experience with Pit (The main character of the series) had been in Super Smash Brothers Brawl. Apparently there was also a GameBoy game, but I’ve never played it. From my understanding, Uprising takes place 25 years after the events of the first game. Medusa has risen again and is causing trouble and what not, so Pit has to battle the forces of evil with the help of his deity/leader Lay Palutena. The story is presented pretty simply and is easy to get into. So far it seems ever line of dialogue has voice work, which is nice, and the back and forth between Pit and Palutena is enjoyable and often funny, with several references back to the original game and even some that break the 4th wall. It’s the kind of stuff that really amuses me, so I enjoy it quite a bit. The game looks fantastic, too. It’s hard to believe that the 3DS can pull off visuals like this. It’s hard to say whether or not it’s the best visuals, though. Resident Evil Revelations still might take that title, but Kid Icarus Uprising is right up there.
The game is laid out into a specific format that slightly resembles that of the original. Each chapter begins with a flight stage, where Pit flies through the air in an “on rails” fashion. The player has control over his movements and attacks, but no real control over where he goes. The second phase is on land and sees pit battling against enemies, finding chests, and making his way towards the boss. These tend to be fairly linear with a few secret areas here and there. The final phase is where you face off against the chapter boss. The game also has an really interesting Intensity feature. Before each match you can spend hearts (the game’s currency) to increase or decrease the game’s difficulty, or “Intensity” as they call it. With higher intensity comes more monsters, but also better rewards. If you die during a chapter your intensity level drops and you lose a portion of the hearts you wagered. It’s a really fun and interesting mechanic that can offer a good amount of replay value, especially when some levels feature side areas that require a certain Intensity level to even access.
Hearts can also be used on others things, such as buying weapons. Pit can utilize many different kinds of armaments like swords, clubs, bows, staves, claws, etc. Some weapon types are better at ranged attacks or melee attacks or strike a balance between the two. They also offer other stat benefits. You can find more powerful versions of each weapon and even fuse them together to create new, more powerful weapons, or just melt down old ones for hearts. In Pit’s weapon you can also socket abilities for use during the ground portion of chapters. These can be anything from healing/curing abilities to more offensive ones. Each ability has a certain size and shape and must fit into the weapon’s limited grid space. Trying to place and fit each thing you might need for a level or for online play adds an additional customizable layer and strategy to the game.
So now I’ve come to what I would consider the game’s only real negative: The Controls. They just… aren’t good. I understand that you are kind of limited on a handheld, but it just seems like they could have done something to make them better. The flying portions aren’t too bad. You control pit with the circlepad, fire with the L button, and aim with the stylus. It gets harder on the ground, however. You still control Pit’s movement with the circle pad, but you have to aim and control the camera with the stylus. You move the cursor around to shoot different enemies and to turn you swipe across the screen to “spin it like you would a globe.” I mean, seriously, that’s how they described it. Like spinning a globe and then touching it with your finger to stop it. If you asked me to spin a globe and then stop it with my finger on Ohio, I have serious doubts as to my accuracy on that, which seems to reflect in-game. You do get used to them over time, but they are still a bitch to use and I know I could do so much better with a second circlepad instead. That’s actually the really annoying part. The game does support the circlepad pro, but all that really does is offer lefties the actual ability to play the game. They can use the right circlepad for movement and aim with the left hand. The controls in the game are actually surprisingly customizable but there is NO OPTION TO SET AIMING TO THE RIGHT CIRCLE PAD. I mean, really? How hard would that have been to do? I don’t know how patchable 3DS games are, but if there is the ability then they seriously need to add that option. As it stands the only benefit of using the circlepad pro, for a righty, is having a better/larger grip on the system.
I haven’t experienced too much of the online play, having only competed in a handful of matches. There are two modes, one that is FFA and another that is team based, pitting 3 against 3. In that mode each team has a life bar and when a player dies it chips off a portion of it that is equal to the power of the weapon they are using. Once the lifebar is gone the last player alive spawns as the angel for their team, either Pit or Dark Pit. The first time to deplete the enemy angel’s life wins. It’s not that I dislike the multiplayer or anything. I actually really like the concept, it’s just really hard, especially with the controls. Not only that, but many of the players have really powerful weapons and attacks that can just wipe you out. It gets confusing and can be over fast. I plan to invest more time in it when I can build some more powerful weapons.
I would suggest people get the game. It’s fun, even with the difficult controls, and offers a lot. Singleplayer, multiplayer, weapon collecting/forging, an achievement-like portrait system, the ability to collect tiny figures, etc. Lots of stuff to do, really, just expect a big learning curve on the controls.